Welcome to PACEY’s regular policy update, which provides a summary of the latest policy developments in England and Wales concerning childcare and early years, and how we are representing your views to key decision makers.
Ofsted launches consultation on a new inspection framework
This month Ofsted published a consultation on proposals for a new Education Inspection Framework (EIF), which will replace the current Common Inspection Framework (CIF) from September 2019. The consultation will be open until 5th April, and PACEY is urging all members to respond. You can read a blog from Ofsted about what the new inspection framework means for early years here. Keep an eye on PACEY’s website and social media channels for more information about how you can ensure your views are heard on this vital consultation. If you have any questions or feedback in the meantime, email the policy team.
Nearly half of the childcare workforce is struggling financially
A new report on the childcare workforce from the Education Policy Institute has found that it is less qualified than both the teaching workforce and the general female workforce. Qualification levels might be even lower in the future as the workforce is ageing and fewer employees are upskilling. It also found that childcare workers are often in a position of high financial insecurity, and nearly half of workers (44%) are claiming state benefits or tax credits. Responding to the findings, PACEY’s chief executive, Liz Bayram, said that “funding levels must increase and government needs to recognise the early years profession as equivalent to teaching in the same way that many other countries do. This is the only way we are going to stem the tide of reducing levels of qualified practitioners, of good people leaving the profession they love because they simply cannot afford to stay.”
MPs call for reform of UC childcare support system
The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee, a cross-party group of MPs, published a report outlining the findings of its inquiry into Universal Credit (UC) and childcare support, arguing that the current system “directly conflicts” with the Government’s aim of getting more people into work. Currently, UC claimants must pay for childcare up-front and claim reimbursement from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after the childcare has been provided. This can leave households waiting weeks or even months to be paid back. The Committee found that this is leading many claimants to face a stark choice: turn down a job offer, or get themselves into debt in order to pay for childcare. The committee made a number of recommendations, including providing direct payments of UC childcare support to childcare providers and diverting funding from the schemes aimed at wealthier parents (Tax Free Childcare and the 30 hours childcare) towards Universal Credit childcare.
In case you missed it: DfE early years surveys of LAs and parents
Just before Christmas, the Department for Education (DfE) published two separate surveys on childcare and early years, which canvassed the views of local authorities and parents and contained some interesting findings. The LA survey exposed the scale of the challenge of increasing take-up of the two-year-old offer, and the detrimental impact of 30 hours on the other entitlements. The parent survey revealed that the use of formal childcare has fallen in the past year, from 66 per cent in 2017 to 62 per cent in 2018, though it remained stable for families with only pre-school children at 71 per cent. Among parents with a child aged 0 to 4, 78 per cent were aware of the 30 hours funding. Over three-quarters (78 per cent) of parents were aware that providers can charge for certain extra services, and 76 per cent knew that they could receive their hours from an Ofsted-registered childminder. In contrast, only 27 per cent of parents with a child aged under 12 were aware of Tax Free Childcare.
CIW are moving forward with their implementation of an online system for new registrations of childcare and play provision and model to receive online notifications from current providers. PACEY Cymru have represented the sector at a number of working groups around this over the past few months to ensure the system is fit for purpose for members and feedback has been taken on board. Timescales for the implementation will follow as soon as it is confirmed.
CIW have published a template for the Quality of Care Review for childcare and play providers. To support you in meeting CIW requirements PACEY Cymru have published an update to the Quality of Care factsheet and will be holding associated webinars to further guide you on this issue. PACEY Cymru have also updated the Policy and Procedure Guide for Wales to support those reviewing their service or preparing for inspection. Both these resources are available in English and Welsh.
National Minimum Standards
PACEY Cymru have been working closely with the Welsh Government and Cwlwm on development of a short survey to gather the views of childcare and play providers on the National Minimum Standards. By completing a short online questionnaire you can help to improve the support we provide to the sector and inform future policy decisions. This is a great opportunity to influence the future requirements of childcare and play providers that impacts on registration, regulation and inspection in Wales. Share your views.
Update on the Childcare Offer for Wales
The offer for Wales continues to grow as more Local Authorities came on board this month as part of the pilot and information on full roll out shared by Welsh Government. The latest areas where the offer is available can be found on the Welsh Government website.
If you have any feedback to share on how the offer is being received by parents or any views to share as a childcare provider we would like to hear from you to support the evidence and feedback we share with Welsh Government. All responses will be treated in confidence. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.